New global index exposes 'modern slavery' worldwide

Suspected members of a gang allegedly smuggling (trafficking) Chinese migrants into Europe and the United States The index included victims of human trafficking and forced labour

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Nearly 30 million people around the world are living as slaves, according to a new index ranking 162 countries.

The Global Slavery Index 2013 says India has the highest number of people living in conditions of slavery at 14 million.

But Mauritania has the highest proportional figure with about 4% of its population enslaved.

The report's authors hope it will help governments tackle what they call a "hidden crime".

'Better measure'

Estimated number of slaves

  1. India - 13,956,010
  2. China - 2,949,243
  3. Pakistan - 2,127,132
  4. Nigeria - 701,032
  5. Ethiopia - 651,110
  6. Russia - 516,217
  7. Thailand - 472,811
  8. DR Congo - 462,327
  9. Burma - 384,037
  10. Bangladesh - 343,192

The index was compiled by Australian-based rights organisation Walk Free Foundation using a definition of modern slavery that includes debt bondage, forced marriage and human trafficking.

Sanjoy Majumder says there are "many forms" of slavery in India

"A lot of governments won't like hearing what we have to say," WFF chief executive Nick Grono told the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

"Those governments that want to engage with us, we will be very open to engaging and looking at ways in which we can better measure the issue of modern slavery."

The organisation's estimate of 29.8 million slaves worldwide is higher than other attempts to quantify modern slavery. The International Labour Organisation estimates that almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour.

India, China, Pakistan and Nigeria have the highest numbers of people enslaved, the charity said.

Proportional ranking

  1. Mauritania
  2. Haiti
  3. Pakistan
  4. India
  5. Nepal
  6. Moldova
  7. Benin
  8. Ivory Coast
  9. The Gambia
  10. Gabon

Together with five other countries, they account for three-quarters of the total estimated number of people in modern slavery worldwide.

The report said India's ranking was mostly due to the exploitation of Indians citizens within the country itself.

While the highest proportion of slaves is in Mauritania, with many people inheriting slave status from their ancestors, Haiti is second in the index and Pakistan is third.

The new survey has the backing of world figures including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mrs Clinton said that although the index was not perfect, it provided a starting point, according to the Associated Press.

"I urge leaders around the world to view this index as a call to action, and to stay focused on the work of responding to this crime."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    Sadly we can't do much with this information. The vast majority of slaves in the world are household slaves of the middle classes in the developing world rather than the workers who manufacture goods for export. Putting pressure on governments to tackle the issue is a way forward, but in the case of China the government is trying hard to address the issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    The cure begins with strict enforcement of existing labor laws, an end to corruption in governance, hard time in jail with heavy fines for the perpetrators and their corrupt defenders in government, and open access to the courts and to law enforcement for the victims. Campaigns alerting victims to the possibility of escape and government support in advance of any conviction will also help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Slavery will only cease to exist once we've eradicated the extreme underdevelopment in third world countries which forces them to use slave labour as a means of production.

    We also need entrench in the mind and heart of every person on this planet the idea that no human being is automatically inferior to another simply because of their ethnic or cultural background.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Modern slavery incudes debt bondage, forced marriages, the sale or exploitation of children and human trafficking. More that 4000 are estimated to be living in Britain, according to the report. So keep your eyes open. Being bored with your job does not count.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    I can only assume those who mark down comments about work being like slavery, have a similar sense of entitlement, to those claiming undeserved benefits. I have a reasonably decent job. but if I had a monotonous one
    and I did it for 40 to 50 yrs or less I can see how you might feel that way on Min wage.


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